WHILE SIR JAMES BALFOUR has been always known to those conversant with the sources of Scotish history, as an indefatigable enquirer into the ancient records of his country, and the curious chronicler of the eventful period during which he lived; it is certainly not a little remarkable, that when works of far inferior importance have been daily drawn from the “twilight of unpublished fame,” that his remains, though of such general interest to the Historian, the Lawyer, the Antiquary and the Genealogist, should have been so long withheld from the curiosity of the literary world. And in the publication of thee volumes, the Editor presumes to flatter himself, that he is at once discharging an act of justice to an author, who is assuredly well entitled to the grateful remembrance of his countrymen; and presenting to the pubic a collection of no inconsiderable value to a large class of readers.
In the performance of his immediate duties, the Editor may perhaps be allowed to claim the humble merit of accuracy: he has indeed endeavoured to render the printed text, even to the minutest details of orthography, as nearly as possible a perfect transcript of the original autograph. In one instance alone has he ventured to take any liberty with his author.
Although volumes first and second, comprise the whole of the work denominated “Annales” by Sir James, yet it was thought expedient, for the sake of uniformity, to extend the same running title to those fragments of history subsequent to the conclusion of that treatise, which occupy the third, and part of the fourth volumes. These, indeed, may be considered as forming collections for a continuation of the Annals, which the author meditated; and if he had prosecuted this plan, they would probably have been transcribed, with little alteration, into the body of the work.
The Editor has now to express his gratitude for the encouragement and assistance he has so liberally experienced in the publication of this work. To the Faculty of Advocates in general, and to many of its Members in particular, his sincerest acknowledgments are justly due. To the Right Honourable Lord Belhaven he respectfully offers his best thanks, for the permission accorded by his distinguished ancestor; and he feels the greatest obligation to Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe, Esquire, who kindly procured the sketch so admirably executed by William Page, Esquire. He likewise begs leave to tender his acknowledgments to the Right Honourable the Earl of Aberdeen, for the information politely communicated in regard to certain Manuscripts of Sir James Balfour, preserved in the Library of the British Museum.